Coronavirus: Man City boss Pep Guardiola questions new celebration guidance

PFA chief executive Gordon Taylor urged players to adhere to distancing rules even when celebrating goals last week; Pep Guardiola and Mikel Arteta question the guidance, insisting in the heat of the moment it will be difficult for players to contain their excitement

Pep Guardiola celebrates after Man City's win over Man Utd
Image: Pep Guardiola celebrates after Man City's win over Man Utd in the Carabao Cup

Pep Guardiola and Mikel Arteta believe Premier League players will find it difficult to control their emotions to follow Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) guidance on celebrating goals during the coronavirus pandemic.

Four Premier League matches have so far been postponed, including City's trip to Everton in December, as a result of a recent spike in Covid-19 cases, but a different approach appears to have been taken in the FA Cup over the weekend.

Both Aston Villa and Derby fielded sides made up of youth players for their third-round ties after their entire first-team squads were told to isolate.

Guardiola admitted to being confused by what the rules are on fulfilling matches, while joining the debate on goal celebrations. PFA chief executive Gordon Taylor last week called on players to tone down their celebrations, to adhere to a set of reinforced coronavirus protocols that emphasised the need to maintain a safe distance, and avoid handshakes and shirt-swapping.

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"I read them, the new protocols," Guardiola said. "We are going to follow them. But when one guy scores a goal, I don't know if they can be controlled and not celebrate it.

"All of us [involved on match days] are tested negative, every two days. I don't know what is going to happen - but one guy scores a goal, the joy to celebrate it, I don't know if he is going to think, 'I cannot hug my mate for two, three seconds'.

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"One guy is isolated and the group has to continue. So, I don't know. We follow what the people say at the club, the Premier League. We follow the rules. That is what it is.

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"Aston Villa had 10 players isolated plus the manager. So, I don't know."

Arteta, speaking ahead of Arsenal's clash with Crystal Palace on Thursday, also believes players will not be focused on distancing rules in the intensity of matches.

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"To control the emotions when you're going 200mph in a game full of things happening around you is very difficult to control," Arteta said.

"We ask in our players, in corners for example, to be man-marking people and pushing people around, and then we cannot fist-bump anybody or say hello to anybody.

"It gets a little controversial and difficult to understand."

In the meantime, City's own problems with Covid-19 have continued as Sergio Aguero was forced to miss Sunday's 3-0 victory over Birmingham in the FA Cup third round.

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The Argentine has been told to self-isolate after it was discovered he is a close contact of someone who has tested positive for the virus. City have already been without eight other players following positive tests at various stages since Christmas Day.

"There are teams with four or five cases and played 10 players from the U23s in the FA Cup. We are four or five, the same situation, and we are here," Guardiola added.

"Sergio was in contact with one person and must be isolated - that is good - but we were in touch with Sergio as well, and we played."

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